29 June 2021 | Bryony Parker

Your weekly digest of policy news, funding competitions, and calls for evidence.

What’s been in the news?

Engineering Biology – a new programme

UKRI is working to establish an Engineering Biology programme with the Defence Science Technology Laboratory along with other partners including BBSRC and EPSRC and have announced funding opportunities for breakthrough ideas and transition awards.

The announcement by UKRI highlights the importance of Engineering Biology in scientific innovation for decarbonisation, health and wellbeing and energy, food security and environmental management.

Innovations and scientific advances in Engineering Biology are not just applicable to one industry, but make significant scientific contributions across many sectors from pharmaceuticals to agrisciences.

SCI is working with key stakeholders in this space - keep an eye on the SCI website for further announcements.

SCI PoliSCI newsletter - 29 June 1980 - image of a scientist in a laboratory

UK Prime Minister puts science at heart of Government

UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, is moving ahead on his ambitions to make the country a ‘global science superpower’ with the establishment of a new Ministerial National Science and Technology Council and an Office for Science and Technology Strategy.

Chaired by the Prime Minister, the Council will provide ‘strategic direction on the use of science and technology as tools to tackle societal challenges, level up across the UK and boost prosperity around the world.’

Chief Scientific Advisor, Sir Patrick Vallance, will lead the Office for Science and Technology Strategy, as well as taking up a new role of National Technology Adviser. The Office for Science and Technology Strategy will support the Ministerial Council and the National Technology Advisor, driving the Government’s science and technology priorities.

In addition, the new Office will ‘Strengthen the Government’s insight into cutting-edge research and technologies, and work across Government to put science and technology at the centre of policy and public services.’ The Office will also identify what is needed in the UK to deliver the government’s ambitions.

The whole of the UK Government is expected to engage with the new Office; taking the UK’s approach to the development of covid-19 vaccines, and applying it to other priorities. These priorities include the move to net-zero and treatments for cancer.

For more information on this topic, see our news article from Monday 21 June 2021 and the comment by SCI CEO Sharon Todd.

SCI PoliSCI newsletter - 29 June 1980 - image of scientists in a computer laboratory

Parliamentary Links Day 2021: Science and Climate Change

Science and its role in tackling Climate Change was the focus of Parliamentary Links Day 2021. With November’s United Nations COP26 Climate Change Conference fast approaching, the event highlighted the importance of interaction between the scientific community and government in dealing with climate change and the associated challenges – ‘a whole system approach.’ Delegates were told the time for talking is over and we need to decide on the best solutions.

As COP26 President Designate, Rt Hon Alok Sharma MP - used his recorded message to emphasize that the scientific community had brought climate change to the attention of government and society. ‘The role of science is unquestionable in tackling climate change,’ he said. ‘It is vital that politicians and scientists talk, and vital that science lights the way.’

Indeed, the consensus among all of the speakers at Parliamentary Links Day 2021; was that implementation was now critical if the target of carbon neutrality was to be achieved by 2050. Sir Patrick Vallance, UK Government Chief Scientific Advisor, reminded the two hundred delegates in attendance that there were little more than 1500 weeks until 2050 and now was the time to implement technology at scale putting it in place during the 2020s. ‘Anything not yet discovered will not help with the 2050 target,’ said Sir Patrick. ‘We are now at the stage where innovation needs to be deployed at scale. New developments and iterations are still important, but we are now at implementation.’ Citing domestic heating and transport, Sir Patrick said that these were two areas in which a huge push was now needed to deploy existing technologies.

For more information on this topic, see here: https://www.soci.org/news/2021/6/parliamentary-links-day-2021

SCI PoliSCI newsletter - 29 June 1980 - image of the houses of Parliament

Calls for evidence 

Net Zero Governance
The Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy committee has launched an inquiry to examine the leadership and co-ordination required by government to deliver net zero by 2050. Views on metrics for measuring progress and structures and models to implement are sought after.

Deadline: 27 August 2021


UK trade negotiations
Submissions are welcomed on UK trade negotiations with the EU including views on the objectives of the Department for International Trade for Free Trade Agreement negotiations.

Deadline: 31 December 2021

Further information can be found here.


Funding competitions

Horizon Europe
The first funding calls under Horizon Europe launched through the European Research Council.

Deadline: 31 August 2021

To find more on eligibility for Horizon Europe funding for your sector, you can view the national contact points here and European Funding and Tenders can be searched here.

Further information on the UK’s association to Horizon Europe can be found here.

Further information on the SME and start-up fund can be found here.


Active Debris Removal: Call for study proposals
Applications for a share of up to £800,000 in funding from the UK Space Agency are open for ideas that aim to remove space debris.

Deadline: 13 July 2021

More information can be found here.


IETF deployment of energy efficiency technologies, Spring 2021
Organisations can apply for a share of up to £40 million to improve the energy efficiency of industrial processes and reducing carbon emissions. Grants are available for projects that have a total minimum funding of £100,000.

Deadline: 14 July 2021


Innovate UK SMART grants May 2021
UK registered organisations can apply for a share of up to £25 million for viable R&D innovation projects. Grants are available for projects of 6 – 36 months.

Deadline: 25 August 2021


Biomedical catalyst 2021: early and late stage awards
UK registered organisations can apply for a grant of up to £18 million to develop innovative healthcare products, technologies, and processes. Projects must last between 12 and 36 months.

Deadline: 26 August 2021


ISCF smart sustainable plastic packaging: business-led R&D
UK registered businesses can apply for a share of up to £7 million for R&D projects, as part of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund. Grants available between £200,000 and £4 million and projects must last between 12 and 36 months.

Deadline: 8 September 2021

You can find further details of the funding calls on the Government website

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